BVHS Weekend Column: Female Fecal Incontinence

As many as one in five adult women suffer from loss of bowel control…..

Let’s Talk About Female Fecal Incontinence by Jodi Bollenbacher, PA-C Blanchard Valley Obstetrics & Gynecology


Jodi Bollenbacher, PA-C

Women often avoid discussing accidental bowel leakage, also known as fecal incontinence. The subject often seems taboo. Women may think they are the only ones suffering with it and become too embarrassed to talk about it. As many as one in five adult women suffer from loss of bowel control. Fecal incontinence has been identified as the inciting reason prompting nursing home placement in nearly 50 percent of cases. Women with bowel control problems may leak gas, liquid or solid stool. They may experience a strong or urgent need to have a bowel movement, stool spotting on underwear or pads, diarrhea or constipation.

Accidental bowel leakage can occur if there are problems with the muscles and nerves in the rectum and pelvis. The most common cause of accidental bowel leakage in females is childbirth. During childbirth, the muscles and tissues of the rectum may be stretched or torn or your anal sphincter can be injured. Other causes can be hemorrhoids that prolapse, certain medications that affect stool consistency, certain illnesses (such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis or stroke) that can damage the nerves to the rectum, problems with the gastrointestinal tract (inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, or cancer of the rectum), or surgery/radiation therapy to the pelvic area.

If you are experiencing symptoms of fecal incontinence, your health care provider can help. Physicians perform an extensive medical history and exam. Some testing may be necessary such as anoscopy/proctoscopy, anorectal manometry, defecography, nerve tests or ultrasound.

There are several ways that accidental bowel leakage can be treated. The type of treatment that you have depends on the cause of the problem and how severe it is. You may be referred to other health care providers who specialize in treating accidental bowel leakage. Treatment can include lifestyle changes, biofeedback, medications, sacral nerve stimulation, injections and surgery.

Sacral nerve stimulation (InterStim) can be used when the nerves that control the bowels are not working correctly. In this treatment, a device is implanted under the skin, usually right above the buttocks. A thin wire is placed near the sacral nerves (near the tailbone), which control the colon, rectum and anal sphincter. The device sends a mild electrical signal along the wire to these nerves that restores the normal function of the bowels. Studies show that more than 80 percent of patients achieve more than 50 percent reduction in incontinent episodes per week.

Women who suffer from fecal incontinence are not alone. Speak with your provider about treatment options today.

BVH ‘Healthy Living with Diabetes’ Presentation

You are invited – Mark your calendars!


Blanchard Valley Health System (BVHS) will host “Healthy Living with Diabetes,” part of the “Live and Learn” series, to educate the community about methods of coping with diabetes that promote healthy lifestyles. This event will be held on Tuesday, March 12 from 12 to 1 p.m. in the Marathon Auditorium of Blanchard Valley Hospital and led by Thomas Grace, MD from the Blanchard Valley Diabetes Center, a division of BVHS.

A boxed lunch will be provided and seating is limited. RSVP is required by Tuesday, March 5 and can be made by emailing events @bvhealthsystem.org or calling 419.423.5551.

Attendees will enjoy an informative program on methods of controlling diabetes and improving their quality of life.

Dr. Grace achieved his master’s degree in medical sciences at Wayne State Medical School and his Doctor of Medicine at American University of the Caribbean (St. Maarten, DWI). He fulfilled his family medicine residency at Beaumont Hospital in Grosse Pointe, Michigan.

Bluffton Hospital Recognized as a 2019 Top 100 Critical Access Hospital

This award is one of the industry’s most significant designations of performance excellence…..

BBluffton Hospital, a division of Blanchard Valley Health System (BVHS), has been recognized by The Chartis Center of Rural Health as a Top 100 Critical Access Hospital. This award is one of the industry’s most significant designations of performance excellence.

Bluffton Hospital is a licensed 25-bed, short-term acute care facility providing a full range of services including inpatient medical care, 24-hour emergency care, outpatient surgery, women’s care, cosmetic services and diagnostic services. The facility also features a Level 1 obstetrics unit and several physician specialty clinics, including a pelvic pain center.

“As a community hospital, Bluffton Hospital strives to exceed expectations and provide exceptional care for all patients, visitors and associates,” said Chris Keller, president of Bluffton Hospital and vice president of clinical services and supply chain at BVHS. “We are committed to technological advancements, process improvement and patient-centric care. Bluffton Hospital is honored to be recognized as a Top 100 Critical Access Hospital in the United States and vows to continue its path to excellence.”

Hospitals recognized as a Top 100 facility scored in the top 100 among all Critical Access Hospitals nationally based upon the results of the Hospital Strength INDEX® from iVantage Health Analytics. The INDEX leverages 50 rural-relevant indicators across eight pillars of hospital strength, including inpatient market share, outpatient market chare, cost, charge, quality, outcomes, patient perspective and financial stability, to determine an overall score for each hospital.

“Awards like this are a measure of how well we are doing,” concluded Keller. “We do not strive for honors and awards for their own sake. We do it because of our commitment to the community.”

To learn more about the services available at Bluffton Hospital, please call 419.358.9010.

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Bluffton Hospital is a division of Blanchard Valley Health System, which provides a total continuum of care to more than 100,000 households in an eight-county area. The BVHS mission is to provide a broad continuum of exceptional health-related services in Northwest Ohio.

BVHS Weekend Column: Pediatric Food Allergy vs. Intolerance

Food allergies affect roughly five to eight percent of all children…..

Pediatric Food Allergy vs. Intolerance,  byDavid Stukus, MD, Allergy and Immunology

Nationwide Children’s Hospital, an affiliate of Blanchard Valley Health System

Dr. David Stukus

Food allergies affect roughly five to eight percent of all children. A food allergy diagnosis can dramatically alter one’s life as it requires constant vigilance during meals and snacks and preparation in case a severe allergic reaction occurs. While many people experience various symptoms after eating certain foods, it is important to understand the differences between food allergy and intolerance.

What is an allergy?

An allergy is a response by the immune system to a food allergen, which causes symptoms that occur immediately (within a few hours) and with every exposure to that allergen.

While any food can potentially cause an allergy; peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, milk, wheat, soy and fish/ shellfish cause more than 90 percent of allergic reactions.

What is an intolerance?

An intolerance is a non-immunologic response to a food that mainly causes gastrointestinal symptoms with exposure.

Common food intolerances include lactose (milk), wheat, gluten, fruits and vegetables.

Allergy Symptoms vs. Intolerance Symptoms

So how do you know if your child has an allergy or an intolerance? The good news is, for the most part, signs and symptoms vary between the two. The lists below illustrate the different reactions you might see in your child if they have a food allergy or intolerance.

Allergy Intolerance
Hives Not always reproducible
Swelling More subjective complaints
Difficulty breathing Not always immediate
Difficulty swallowing Bloating
Vomiting Gassiness
Hypotentions (passing out) Heartburn
Anaphylaxis Vomiting
Constipation
Diarrhea

Talking to Your Child’s Physician

If you think your child may have a food allergy or intolerance, talk to your child’s pediatrician about the symptoms your child is experiencing. Preparing answers to the following questions will help your pediatrician determine if a referral or testing is necessary:

  1. What do you think your child is allergic to?
  2. What do the signs and symptoms look and feel like?
  3. How long did it take for symptoms to begin after your child ate/encountered it?
  4. How long did the symptoms last?
  5. Need for treatment and what type of treatment
  6. Does this happen every time your child eats/encounters it?
  7. When was the most recent reaction?

How will a physician test if my child has an allergy?

The history is the most important part of the evaluation. Allergy testing may be indicated when the history suggests a possible food allergy. If the history does not suggest a food allergy, then testing may not be necessary.

Testing options include:

  • Skin prick testing
  • Serum specific IgE testing
  • Oral food challenge
https://www.nationwidechildrens.org/-/media/nch/700childrens/2017/05/allergy-tests.ashx?la=en&hash=9224BCC5902560D22FE215241BD830F060617E0D

Some studies show that up to one in three people report having a food allergy. However, only one in 20 actually do. This discrepancy often comes from an incomplete understanding of the differences between food allergy vs. intolerance, or even normal response to some foods. If you have concerns, talk to your physician.

BVHS: ‘Taking Care of You’ Presentation

Part of the ‘Living Through Loss’ Series at Blanchard Valley Hospital….

The February presentation of the “Living through Loss” series will be held on Monday, February 18 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. and titled “Taking Care of You.” This presentation will take place in the Marathon Auditorium at Blanchard Valley Hospital located at 1900 South Main Street in Findlay.

“Taking Care of You” will offer the bereaved an opportunity to learn about and enjoy methods of self-care such as relaxing massage therapy, aromatherapy, mindfulness and music, humor and even “mood-lifting” desserts. During grief, many individuals find it difficult to prioritize their care, leading to burnout, exhaustion and even increased illness. This presentation will allow attendees to experience forms of self-care as well as become equipped with tools to perform self-care acts at home to avoid physical, mental or spiritual illness.

This presentation will be led by Ashley Jacobus, licensed professional counselor and registered yoga teacher. Ashley is a certified adult trauma professional and will discuss how grief impacts the physical, mental and emotional self. Ashley is also the executive director of Sunshine Institute where she teaches individuals of all ages how to balance the mind and body through physical activities and behavioral modifications.

“Living Through Loss” is a nine-month educational series that focuses on the issues surrounding the death of a loved one. Each monthly presentation is open to the public and registration is not required. Presentations provide information related to the grief process, offer opportunities for discussion and are held from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Marathon Auditorium at Blanchard Valley Hospital. Although the thought of speaking up in a group can be intimidating, many attendees find the discussion helpful as they discover their questions and concerns are similar to others. A bereavement expert is available to speak with attendees in private following the presentation.

This series is sponsored by Bridge Home Health and Hospice. For questions, to learn upcoming dates or to have a full program brochure sent to you, please contact the Bridge bereavement coordinator at 419.423.5351 or email bridge@bvhealthsystem.org.

BVHS Program Cancelled

Support group scheduled for this Thursday, February 5 has been cancelled….

Due to a lack of registrants, the “Forever Memories” support group scheduled for this Thursday, February 5 has been cancelled. Bridge Bereavement Services apologizes for any inconvenience. For questions or concerns, contact the Bridge bereavement coordinator at 419.423.5351 or bridge@bvhealthsystem.org<mailto:bridge@bvhealthsystem.org>.

BVHS Weekend Column: Alcohol Consumption and Cirrhosis

When damage occurs, the liver can no longer function properly……

by Brenda Keller, CNP, Gastroenterology Associates of Northwest Ohio


Brenda Keller, CNP

One of the common responses to a diagnosis of cirrhosis, the late stage of progressive liver damage, is “How much does she/he drink?” It is known that excessive alcohol consumption can be associated with cirrhosis. However, there are several causes outside of alcohol consumption.

Cirrhosis can be called “end-stage liver disease.” Damage to the liver causes scar tissue that replaces normal liver tissue. When the damage occurs, the liver can no longer function properly. Typically, the disease progresses slowly, often over the course of several years. In advanced stages, cirrhosis is considered irreversible with liver transplantation as the only treatment option.

There are numerous causes of liver disease that can result in cirrhosis. The most common causes of cirrhosis in the United States account for approximately 80 percent of patients on transplant waiting lists and are as follows:

  • Chronic viral hepatitis (such as hepatitis B or C): Hepatitis B is a virus that can cause acute and chronic infection. Chronic hepatitis develops in about 15 percent of adults who are unable to eliminate the hepatitis B virus after an initial infection. The virus is transmitted through blood and body fluids. Blood contact can occur by sharing syringes during IV drug use, sharing razors, receiving unsanitary tattoos or by touching wounds on an infected person. A vaccine series is available to prevent hepatitis B infection. Hepatitis C is also transmitted through blood and body fluids and usually leads to chronic hepatitis, resulting in cirrhosis. Patients with hepatitis C are susceptible to severe infection if they contract either hepatitis A or hepatitis B, so all persons with hepatitis C should be immunized against hepatitis A and B if they are not already immune. They should also avoid alcohol. Antiviral medications can sometimes effectively reduce the virus to undetectable levels. The genotype of the virus is a determining factor in how effective the medication will be in treating hepatitis C. Genotype 1 is the most resistant strain.
  • Alcoholic liver disease: 80 percent of alcohol passes through the liver to be detoxified. Chronic consumption of alcohol contributes to the development of inflammation and eventually fibrosis of liver cells. Fibrosis is essentially scar tissue in the liver and occurs when the liver attempts to repair and replace damaged cells.
  • Non-alcoholic liver disease (NAFLD): NAFLD is the build-up of extra fat in the liver cells. The liver normally contains some fat, but if more than 5 to 10 percent of the liver’s weight is fat, it is considered a fatty liver (steatosis). NAFLD affects an estimated 25 percent of the population. Insulin resistance appears to be the strongest risk factor, although NAFLD can occur without a person being insulin resistant. Other risk factors include obesity, high blood sugar and high levels of fats, particularly triglycerides in the blood.
  • Hemochromatosis: Hemochromatosis is a disease in which too much iron builds up in the body (iron overload), which can lead to cirrhosis. There are two types of hemochromatosis: primary and secondary. Primary hemochromatosis is caused by a defect in the genes that control how much iron is absorbed from food. Secondary hemochromatosis is usually a result of another condition that causes iron overload. Treatment of hemochromatosis is aimed at reducing the amount of iron in the body to normal levels. This is often done through therapeutic phlebotomy or blood donation.
  • Autoimmune hepatitis (AIH): AIH is the inflammation of the liver that occurs when the immune system attacks the liver. The exact cause of AIH is unclear, but genetic and environmental factors appear to interact over time, leading to the condition. Untreated AIH can lead to cirrhosis. Type 1 AIH is the most common type of the disease, and approximately half of individuals with Type 1 AIH have other autoimmune disorders such as celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis or ulcerative colitis. The condition is more common in females. The goal of AIH treatment is to slow or stop the immune system’s attack on the liver, and the initial treatment is usually Prednisone.

These are just a few of the many conditions that can contribute to the development of cirrhosis. As you can see, a person with cirrhosis may not have consumed any alcohol and still developed the condition. For more information about cirrhosis, contact your local gastroenterologist.

BVHS Weekend Column: Hospice Care is Not a Death Sentence

Many believe hospice is only for those with limited days or weeks to live, but that is not true…..

by Chelsie Niese, RN, Clinical Educator, Bridge Home Health and Hospice

Chelsie Niese, RN

Many patients and their families decline hospice care because the patient is “not ready to die.” I understand and have empathy toward someone who does not want to die, but receiving hospice care does not cause death. The reality is hospice care enhances many patients’ quality of life so that they are able to enjoy more of their time with family and friends.

One of the biggest myths about hospice care is that the patient or family has given up. Many believe hospice is only for those with limited days or weeks to live, but that is not true. The goal of hospice is to simply maintain or improve the quality of life for the patient whose illness, disease or condition is unlikely to be cured. Hospice care helps to alleviate all symptoms of a disease but primarily emphasizes on controlling pain and discomfort. It also plays a major role in offering comfort and support to the patient and their families during such a delicate time.

Hospice does not speed up the onset of death. In fact, some patients receiving hospice care live longer. This is because their quality of life and emotional well-being have improved and allowed their body time to plateau instead of continuing to worsen. The biggest difference between hospice care and traditional medical care is that hospice care no longer focuses on “curing” the patient. It instead focuses on enhancing the patient’s quality of life by controlling symptoms such as pain and discomfort.

For a patient to receive hospice care, a physician must certify that the patient may not live beyond six months. However, do not dwell on this six-month time frame. The physician is not guaranteeing the patient will pass away within six months; physicians are required to reevaluate patients periodically to determine whether they still qualify for hospice care.

Hospice care is excellent for patients in progressive stages of non-curable diseases, the very weak or the extremely elder. One of the advantages of hospice is that in most cases physicians and medical staff come to the patient’s home. This can be extremely helpful for patients who are too weak or ill to travel outside of the home.

Caregivers can also benefit from hospice care. Hospice provides families more comfort, support, guidance and grief counseling than traditional medical care. Some hospice agencies offer 24-hour on call care and support to all patients and families every day of the week. Hospice care is also typically less expensive than hospital stays or emergency room visits and is covered under Medicare and many insurance plans. Furthermore, there is no cost to the patient for medications or medical equipment related to the patient’s hospice diagnosis.

Hospice is a valuable yet underutilized service. If you think hospice care may be right for you or a loved one, speak with your physician.

BVHS Offers Scholarships

Blanchard Valley Health System Offers Several Scholarships to Area Students, BVHS Associates……

Blanchard Valley Health System Offers Scholarships to Area Students, BVHS Associates

Blanchard Valley Health System (BVHS) is offering educational scholarships to individuals pursuing health care careers. BVHS associates and current college students may be eligible to apply.

A complete list of scholarships, along with applications, deadlines, qualifications and contact information can be viewed at bvhealthsystem.org/scholarships by clicking on the “Scholarships” link under the “Health Care Professionals” menu.

Those who receive a BVHS scholarship may be required to make a commitment to the organization. Available scholarships are as follows:

The Jane Heminger Nursing Scholarship is available to students entering at least their second year of education and accepted into a nursing program at an accredited college of nursing with a minimum GPA of 3.25. Applicants must have a permanent address in Hancock County. Application must be received by April 1. For more information call 419.429.6414.

The Kathleen Higgins Endowed Scholarship is available to students pursuing a career in nursing. Applicants must have a permanent address in an area served by BVHS. Additionally, applicants must be entering at least their second year of education and accepted into a nursing program at an accredited college of nursing beginning between the summer of 2019 and the spring of 2020. Coursework must be for academic credit and count toward a nursing degree. A grade point average of 3.0 or higher is required. Preference is given to applicants demonstrating financial need. Applications must be received by April 1. For more information, call 419.429.6414.

The Phyllis Zimber Endowed Scholarship is available to individuals pursuing a degree in nursing with a special interest in obstetrics. Applicants must have a permanent address in an area served by BVHS. Additionally, applicants must be entering at least their second year of education and accepted into a nursing program at an accredited college of nursing. Coursework must be for academic credit and count toward a nursing degree. A grade point average of 3.0 or higher is required. Preference is given to applicants who are BVHS associates, family members of BVHS associates or those who demonstrate financial need. Applications must be received by April 1. For more information, call 419.429.6414.

The Findlay Auxiliary Scholarship offers assistance to Hancock County area high school seniors pursuing health-related careers. Students must attend a Hancock County school or Findlay High School. Additionally, applicants must be in the top third of their class academically and have a sincere goal to enter the medical field. Applications must be received by April 15. For more information, call 419.423.5342.

The Medical Explorer Post Scholarship has offered assistance for more than 20 years to high school seniors planning to pursue a career in medicine. Applicants must have been a Medical Explorer Post member for at least two years, be in good academic standing and have participated in community and volunteer activities. Applications must be received by April 1. For more information, call 419.422.4356 extension 125.

The Greater Northwest Ohio Diabetes Association offers educational assistance to persons with diabetes. Applicants must be a high school senior or college student with diabetes from Hancock, Hardin, Putnam, Seneca, Wood or Wyandot County. Applications must be received by March 31. For more information, call 419.423.5434.

The Kristine Mullen Memorial Scholarship Fund is available to nursing students interested in critical care, advancement in nursing education and/or nurses interested in becoming educators. Applicants must have a permanent address in an area served by BVHS. A grade point average of 3.0 or higher is required. Applications must be received by April 1. For more information, call 419.429.6414.

The Sherri Winegardner Endowed Nursing Scholarship is available to nursing students pursuing a Bachelor of Science in nursing or an advanced degree in nursing. Applicants must have a permanent address in an area served by BVHS and be accepted into at least two courses of an accredited nursing program beginning between the summer of 2019 and the spring of 2020. Coursework must be for academic credit and count toward a nursing degree. A grade point average of 3.0 or higher is required. Special consideration will be given to applicants with an interest in practicing in the area of critical care or those with an interest in pursuing an advanced degree to be a nurse educator. Furthermore, special consideration will be given to applicants who meet the above qualifications and demonstrate financial need. Applications must be received by April 1. For more information, call 419.423.5457.

The Karis S. (Powell) Woodward, RN, Nursing Scholarship Fund is available to nursing students pursuing a Bachelor of Science in nursing who have been accepted into a BSN program in an accredited college of nursing. Applicants must have a permanent address in an area served by BVHS. Eligible students must maintain a 3.0 G.P.A. and exhibit good moral character. This scholarship is renewable from year to year. Applications must be received by April 1. For more information, call 419.429.6414.

The Barbara Miles Nursing Scholarship Fund is available to nursing students entering at least the sophomore year of an accredited nursing program or current nurses pursuing an advanced degree or specialty training. Special consideration will be given to applicants with goals/interests in emergency or hospice care. Applicants must have a permanent address in an area served by BVHS. A grade point average of 3.0 or higher is required. Applications must be received by April 1. For more information, call 419.429.6414.

Maxine Snyder Endowed Trust Certification and Master’s Preparation Scholarship is available to current BVHS registered nurses who have been employed at BVHS for at least one year. Applicants should be in a program of special benefit to BVHS, such as certification training or a master’s degree in nursing. Applications must be received by April 1. For more information, call 419.423.5457.

The Karen S. Jones Nursing Certification Scholarship is available to BVHS Bluffton and Findlay campus registered nurses who wish to gain certification. Applicants must have practiced two years or more in their specialty. The scholarship can be used toward a review course and/or certification exam fee in their specialty. Applicants must be exemplary performers at BVHS. Applications must be received by April 1. For more information, call 419.429.6414.

The Michael Lachman Memorial Certification Scholarship is available to BVHS associates who wish to become or renew board certification in Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing. Applicants must be an exemplary performer at BVHS. The scholarship may be used toward review materials and/or testing. Applications must be received by April 1. For more information, call 419.429.6414.

The Barbara L. Plaugher Nursing Scholarship is available to BVHS Bluffton and Findlay campus nurses who wish to seek further professional education through advancing degrees in nursing or health care science. Applicants must be exemplary performers at BVHS. Applications must be received by April 1. For more information, call 419.429.6414.

The Nursing Education Fund is available to professional nurses employed within BVHS. The scholarship can be used for individual conference participation, nursing speakers for a large group of staff nurses, certification for specialized nursing and pursuit of advanced degrees in the health care field. Applications must be received by April 1 and September 1 of each year. For more information, call 419.429.6414.

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Blanchard Valley Health System provides a total continuum of care to more than 100,000 households in an eight-county area.

UPDATE: ‘Understanding Depression in Grief’ Presentation

Due to the bitter cold and icy roads, Bridge Bereavement Services is rescheduling the January “Living through Loss” presentation…..

UPDATE:
Due to the bitter cold and icy roads, Bridge Bereavement Services is rescheduling the January “Living through Loss” presentation. This is the same time, location and presenter, only a different date. 

The January presentation of the “Living through Loss” series will be held on Monday, January 28 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. and titled “Understanding Depression through Grief.” This presentation will take place in the Marathon Auditorium at Blanchard Valley Hospital located at 1900 South Main Street in Findlay.

“Understanding Depression in Grief” will assist the bereaved in identifying depression, understanding the difference between “feeling” and “being” depressed and offer coping mechanisms for healthy grief. Jamie Wilkinson-Franks, MSW, LISW-S of Stepping Stones Counseling, will be presenting with opportunity for discussion to follow.

“Living Through Loss” is a nine-month educational series that focuses on the issues surrounding the death of a loved one. Each monthly presentation is open to the public and registration is not required. Presentations provide information related to the grief process, offer opportunities for discussion and are held from 7 to 8 p.m. in the Marathon Auditorium at Blanchard Valley Hospital. Although the thought of speaking up in a group can be intimidating, many attendees find the discussion helpful as they discover their questions and concerns are similar to others. A bereavement expert is available to speak with attendees in private following the presentation.

This series is sponsored by Bridge Home Health and Hospice. For questions, to learn upcoming dates or to have a full program brochure sent to you, please contact the Bridge bereavement coordinator at 419.423.5351 or email bridge@bvhealthsystem.org.

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Bridge Bereavement Services is a division of Blanchard Valley Health System, which provides a total continuum of care to more than 100,000 households in an eight-county area.

BVHS Weekend Column: Contact Dermatitis on the Hands

…reduce the risk of contact dermatitis on the hands.

Contact Dermatitis on the Handsby Kelly Koenig, MD, FAAD , Blanchard Valley Medical Associates – Dermatology

Kelly Koenig, Dermatology Resident

Many people suffer from various rashes to their hands. We use our hands in countless ways throughout the day, so itchy, painful and sometimes blistering or cracked skin on our hands can have a huge impact on our daily activities. Fortunately, there are solutions.

Hand dermatitis can have several causes. For instance, some individuals suffer from ongoing chronic issues related to an existing skin condition such as eczema or psoriasis. During the winter months with lower humidity, these conditions often worsen. Most commonly, however, newly onset dry skin on the hands is classified as “irritant contact dermatitis.” This condition can result in dry, cracked, painful skin anywhere on the body but is commonly found on the hands due to frequent washing and exposure to various chemicals in our environment.

Overly dry skin on the hands can result from the overuse of harsh soaps and cleaning agents, frequent hand-washing, dry heat and low humidity in the air, or lack of moisturizing to help repair the skin barrier after these insults. Washing hands with mild, moisturizing and non-foaming cleansers is one measure to reduce the risk of contact dermatitis on the hands. Additionally, using hand sanitizers, which are less irritating that soap and water, throughout the day when the hands are not visibly soiled and moisturizing the hands with a heavy emollient cream or ointment that is fragrance-free immediately after they become wet may also help. White petrolatum (plain Vaseline), CeraVe cream, Neutrogena Norwegian Formula, Aquaphor, Vanicream, Eucerin cream and other similar products are favorable moisturizing options.

Less commonly, individuals can be affected by “allergic contact dermatitis.” This results when an allergen or chemical in the environment comes in contact with the skin and causes itchy, red, raised and sometimes blistering rashes that appear two to seven days or more after exposure. A common example of this type of reaction is poison ivy.

Many chemicals can also cause allergy including fragrances, metals such as nickel, gold and cobalt, preservatives such as formaldehyde, quaternium-15 and MI/MCI, or topical antibiotics such as neomycin and bacitracin. Because these reactions typically occur several days after exposure, it can be difficult to correlate and decipher the actual cause. If the hands do not improve by using gentle soaps and moisturizers listed above, then further allergy testing such as “patch testing” can be completed to help identify any chemical source contributing to the problem.

Overall, for dry, itchy skin, using mild and fragrance-free cleansers, hand sanitizers when appropriate and moisturizing immediately after washing and throughout the day can help reduce irritation. Prescription cortisone creams can also provide relief for extreme cases, and ultimately further testing is sometimes required. A board-certified dermatologist can provide guidance if despite these measures, individuals continue to experience severe contact dermatitis.  

‘Forever Memories’ Support Group to Make ‘Memory Frames’

ALL adults and families who have recently lost a loved one are welcome!

Bridge Bereavement Services, a division of Blanchard Valley Health System, will host a “Forever Memories support group on Thursday, February 7 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Hub at Birchaven Village, located at 15100 Birchaven Lane, Findlay. Individuals who have experienced the death of a loved one can find support in one another while create a 12 inch by 12 inch memory frame to honor a deceased loved one’s life and relationship.

All adults and families who have recently lost a loved one are welcome, whether or not the deceased was a patient of Bridge Home Health and Hospice. This opportunity allows individuals the chance to take a step toward healing by creating lasting memories and speaking openly about loved ones who have passed.

All supplies will be provided, but attendees are encouraged to bring memories and photographs they would like to use to create the frame. Registration is required by Monday, February 4, 2019. To register or for more information, call the Bridge bereavement coordinator at 419.423.5351 or email bridge@bvhealthsystem.org.

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Bridge Bereavement Services is a division of Blanchard Valley Health System, which provides a total continuum of care to more than 100,000 households in an eight-county area.